How the fitness industry has rallied during COVID-19
When COVID-19 hit the west and really became a global pandemic, causing lockdowns in almost every country and businesses having to shut their doors nobody quite knew how each industry would react. Would they survive at all or against the odds would they actually thrive?
When gyms started to shut their doors under government instruction personal trainers and fitness instructors who had no reason to see this coming panicked and were rightfully worried that their businesses were in jeopardy, if they were self-employed there was no furlough and in the UK they’d have to wait 3 months to get a pay-out. Would their clients stick by them and consider being trained online with what little equipment they had at home?
At first no, for a lot of people going on furlough and the uncertainty behind it the first thing to go was the gym membership and their PT. But despite being told you could only go out for exercise one hour a day and having no access to a gym the fitness bug soon hit and people off work out of nowhere decided fitness was an important part of their lives.
No doubt if you were someone who walked or cycled daily anyway you saw a huge increase in cyclists and people out for power walks. It was crazy it was like being told “you’re only allowed to exercise for an hour a day” made the whole nation exercise for a full hour every day so they could get out of the house.
Interestingly enough most of these people always had this hour to spend on exercise but never used it to be active, when lockdown is gone, and the world is back to “normal” will they continue to exercise? Will we be a super fit nation and lower the obesity rate? It’s probably wishful thinking but it’s a nice thought.
Off the back of this exercise craze people started to reach out to PT’s to be trained online, they have the time, they’re enjoying walking and cycling but could they be doing more? This is what the fitness industry needed right now as the personal training side of the industry really started to panic.
And overnight something I’ve been pitching to anyone that will listen for the last 3 years and far more qualified fitness business gurus have been saying for even longer – the fitness industry went almost fully online!
The demand for PT was back even though there were no gyms and the industry proved it could survive almost anything that was thrown at it. The resilience shown by PT’s to make this work was inspiring and PT’s who traditionally trained face to face now saw that perhaps coaching permanently online was the way to go.
As the owner of a remote coaching software solution myself – Aulo Coach we saw a meteoric rise in demand for our software as I’m confident our competitors did as well. The biggest problem for us as a start-up that only launched at the end of February was getting in front of coaches that hadn’t heard of us and to try us out vs better known brands.
Moving on a couple of months as lockdowns start to ease these seems to be no slowing down of the fitness bug, PT’s that I know are doing record numbers by coaching online and still no gyms are open. Is this the new fitness industry? Totally online without face to face interaction?
It makes sense at the end of the day, nearly everything else we do is online – from Facebook to Instagram to WhatsApp to reading this blog, we’re constantly spending our lives doing things online, why shouldn’t fitness be done that way too? If your coach can send you your program to your phone and you can do it wherever you like is that not more convenient than going to a specific gym at a specific time to meet a specific person?
I think COVID-19 has changed nearly every industry on earth and nearly all of them for the worse, but with the fitness industry refusing to be another negative statistic on a long page that undoubtedly makes Mr Sunak shudder and thrived under the pressure that was thrust upon it, has COVID-19 improved the fitness industry by forcing it to adopt technology and move forward?
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